Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Write and Be Free

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” 
Martin Luther

I am fairly confident that I am not going to change the world, but I definitely change my world and my perspective when I write. Perspective is a brilliant tool of interpretation and reality that must be qualified with an open mind or result in the drowning of the visionary in their own idealism.  Please see the hard line tones of the far left and far right of US politics, having gained the reins of power in very tenuous perception of majority = mandate.

Similarly the reins of power held by the Papacy 500 years ago was ripe for the internal queries of naked human power and greed by those willing to give voice to the observed ills.  Fast forward 270 years and the power of the vocal few incites a revolution that fundamentally altered the way the world sees Democracy and just 95 years ago the power of the people swung so far as to entertain an 80 year period of Communism.

Why does this matter? Look at Luther and Calvin; or Henry, Paine and Jefferson; or Marx, Lenin and Mao.  What is their commonality?  They had ideas and observations in their heads that they needed to release.  If other people understood them, if they made sense and wrote pieces that became rallying cries for change and rapid revolutions of necessity because evolution was too slow.  But more than that they wrote because they needed to give voice to those situations they felt to be wrong or unjust.  They did not write about the problems, but they identified them and promoted possible plans of action.  They even espoused the concept of Common Sense over accepted doctrine and blind obedience and fealty.

But what is the risk of speaking one’s mind.  Ridicule, disdain, anger, bigotry, pain. . . . I have felt all in the past week.  While I wrote of Evan and his journey, his situation meant afforded me a shield.  With Evan’s situation resolved, I write with a sharper pen, not laced with poison, sarcasm and cynicism; by pen seems to cut like a scythe, leave the fallen grain to be winnowed by fork and wind.  But sometimes there is light in the darkness that a step taken by anyone can spur on a cascade of steps by others.  Today I was bathed in some of that light as I met with a friend for coffee and they desired to be authentic and share.

I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I heard this.  My friend is about as authentic and genuine as a person can be.  He loves his wife, his kids, the dogs, his job and Jesus.  Not necessarily in that order, but he has never hidden his feelings on any subject with me, even the subjects we disagree on.  That is why he is such a good friend because he keeps an open mind and does not condemn me for a different point of view.  I encouraged him to write, to get his thoughts into the sphere of appropriate influence.

Ah yes, The Sphere of Appropriate Influence.  There is a story of a big tent country revival in the farming bible belt of the United States of America.  For all those reading outside the USA, please envision your most backward, straw in mouth, Praise Jesus, Hallelujah and pass the biscuits sort of picture.  And every God fearing man and woman from three counties came each night for this event of Hellfire, Brimstone and Altar Call worship.  And one single farmer came each night to this revival and he was stirred by the preaching, praying and singing, and for each of the first 4 of 5 nights he gradually moved seats from the back toward the front. 

On the fifth night of the revival, after the sermon concluded, the pastor called for public confessions and repentance by the faithful, just as he had done the previous 4 nights.  And just as had happened on the previous nights, the congregation, hands raised, singing with the choir shouted out their sins of greed and gossip, bad living and foul mouthed antics.  And to everyone, the pastor yelled back his encouragement of cleansing and peace.  The single farmer was so moved that he finally stood and yelled, “I have drunk too much hard liquor!” and the preacher cried out, “We feel your pain, let it out!”  and the farmer encouraged and feeling the power in the moment confessed loudly, “I have fornicated with loose women and gambled away my money!” and the preacher also sensing the power of the moment replies, “Jesus loves you, let it all out!” and the farmer did, “And I have slept with my sheep!”

The tent is instantly silent, the farmer standing and beaming like a prize rooster, the choir is slack jawed, open mouths gaping and every person in the tent looking at the man.  The preacher walks over to the man and quietly whispers, “I don’t believe I would have let that out!”  

What is it about daylight in a dark space on someone else’s public authenticity about the unshared/unsharable that scares us or inspires us to keep watching the slow motion car wreck?  Where is the call to action?  And if the hue and cry are raised why do we or do we not respond?

“I cannot choose but adhere to the word of God, which has possession of my conscience; nor can I possibly, nor will I even make any recantation, since it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience! Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God! Amen.” 
Martin Luther

King David is one of history’s great mysteries.  Lauded in the bible for his military skill and for being a man after God’s own heart, he was not accepted as a real figure of history in secular circles until 1993.  But it is not his greatness but his failing that is of interest to Nathan, an observer.  It is this reference that I share with my friend.  Someone has to tell the world that the Emperor is not wearing any cloths, why not you?  If there is pressure to recant, ask yourself why is there a push back, what do the powers that be have to fear the light of day.  This isn’t uncovering bestiality, at best it is an open discussion of poor choices reached hastily without due diligence or in the name of pride or prestige that pale in comparison to future health and safety.
“Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” 
Martin Luther

I leave you with this quote to contemplate and comment upon.  I have just received comment in another forum that our progress as a race is built upon the reasoning and rationalizing of the collective sum of humanity as it sways between the dichotomy of pure good and pure evil.  Where is Pascal and his damned square of Divine reason.  But that is for another day.


  1. For the sake of argument I will forgoes exposition of a coupling of Jefferson and Mao. Quite an interesting pairing, yet there still finds me questioning how the Chairman would view yyour central statement. Methinks he would reject your supposition that expression should be encouraged. Actually, other than Luther, the host of characters mentioned shared a deep apprehension of a literate and expressive populace. They all feared the path free expression would take for divergent reasons. What would our good Chairman have made of you? And what is your analysis of how that squares with the response you have thus received?

  2. The chairman would view the premise with admiration of thought, consternation of consequence, would determine that I did not have the best interests of party or people in my heart. He would then bill my family for the bullet destined for my brain. This only because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The risk for the revolutionary is in becoming the establishment that it intended to overthrow.

    The response I have received thus far makes me glad to be a citizen of the USA, as it is I have an appointment with the chairman to discuss my commitment to the party apparatus tomorrow.

    The distillation of my stand is about bridges, a topic close to your heart. I will be asked if I am burning them, building them or redesigning them.

    It is in the short term interest of governing powers to diminish and quell any movement that might upset the status quo rather than embracing change. Historically the most long standing concepts of governance and leadership are those that embrace criticism and outside perspective. But like our relationship with God, it is hard to see we are at essence sinful, and that we are in need of both confession and repentance.